Saturday 8 November 2008

Barack and Hope for the UK ?

Trevor Phillips has been stirring the pot again. I guess he does this deliberately , though he sounded a bit defensive on the Today programme this morning. I am not sure I agree with him on all his comments on how different the American system is from our own ,and how the Obama election could not happen here. I think it is a bit difficult to imagine a young black person becoming PM for a very long time . That said I think our record on equal opportunities and good race relations puts America , and most of Europe to shame . For example the comment from the wretched Italian PM about Obama being " tinted" shows how far away Europe is from understanding what makes for a strong multi-cultural society .Trevor is giving one of our lectures in the current acevo lecture series on 21st century public services. He will be the third lecturer and this one may well be very interesting! Good pre publicity for it . The last Lecture is Francis Maude MP to spelll out the Tory solutions.

One thing for certain though . Our next general election will be tedious and dull in comparison with the recent American President election . And it is hard to see how either Gordon Brown or David Cameron could possibly arouse the sense of hope and optimism that Obama has . His acceptance speech was a triumph . It was inspiring in a way no politician in this country has achieved for so long, though it did bring back memories of 1997 and the great Blair victory and the hope that inspired.

Good to see there will be a puppy in the White House. I stand ready to give advice on the correct choice . My puppy is now snoozing in front of the fire as I blog from the library . And good also that Obama began his career as a community activist . So I guess that must be the first third sector person in the White House? Acevo has sent congratulations and best wishes to the newly elected President . We all wish him well . it has been exhilarating to see the response world wide to the election . I heard it from a Libyan stall holder who was clearly delighted . I then watched the speech on BBC World . The top moment of my 56th Birthday! A better present than the 2 pairs of slippers methinks.

It was great to see that Nick Hurd MP, the opposition spokesman on the sector got in a question to the Prime Minister on the Icelandic losses. GB hinted that solutions were being examined. That is good .But frankly , this is only one aspect of the current recession problem for charities . The Icelandic losses affect up to 100 charities . The looming recession affects practically all . We need a more comprehensive response from government . I have had various replies to letters from the HMT and now from Gordon himself . I do wish they would stop telling me how much they have done for the sector already . i have always acknowledged this . I have been at the forefront of leaders in the sector to point out the huge achievements of the last decade .I have defended the record from the cynics and the whingers . I made that clear in my Guardian article. But that was then . This is now . I notice that when dealing with small business Peter Mandelson does not hark on about what the Government has done in the past . He outlines what needs to be done now.

We have our sector summit on Nov 25th. We will be watching carefully to see what package of support is offered there . One thing is certain , if we get a repeat of the line about what has happened in the past with nothing for the now then the Government will forfeit much support from our sector .I do hope they don't do that .People are watching and waiting.

To help this along acevo is now consulting members on the type of package that would be of most practical use .For example ,one effect of the recession may be to punch big holes in some charities pension funds . If they are told to rectify these deficits this could have devastating effects on the sustainability of some of the country's biggest and most loved charities . This would be a disaster of a much bigger scale than Icelandic bank losses.

We will be submitting proposals to the Summit . But we have already been clear , we want at the least an emergency fund of £500ml to support those third sector bodies most in need of support to face rising demand and falling income.
So lets take hope and courage from the election of Barak Obama . Time to be bold . Innovative .reaching out to those most in need . And using our sector to its full potential .Liam and Kevin ; time to be decisive not timid . we are counting on it .

Charlbury in the Autumn is a magical place ; the Fall colours of the woods and the smell of the many wood fires . England is a glorious country . And always greatly appreciated when you return from abroad . Yes ,the Sahara is magnificent . But sand is sand. I'm going back for a coffee in front of my wood fire . And catching up on emails.

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